Plant & Works Engineering
Look to the future
Published:  09 October, 2019

As the Brexit deadline of 31st October approaches many, including myself, are nervous as to what the outcome for British manufacturing will be. The uncertainty that has surrounded industry has been going on for what now seems an eternity. Any release of this uncertainty through a negotiated deal with the EU would undoubtedly be a huge relief valve for investment.

But change does now seem inevitable and although some threats and opportunities will not materialise, industry must look to the future and dare I say - take control!

No one can reasonably argue that trading primarily within a Customs Union and Single Market has not been remarkably stable for the UK, but as Andy Kaye, CEO, Bis Henderson Group, said recently, fresh thinking, and a freedom from the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality, is invaluable. Ultimately this is the attitude I believe UK industry must adopt if it is to flourish and thrive beyond Brexit. We cannot afford to look back but must look instead at what we can do.

I agree with his view that businesses may want to look at re-shoring manufacturing operations, at re-examining the outsourcing of operations, of where their facilities should optimally be located, and where the most competitive supply base is to be found. If trade friction is going to disrupt essentially stockless Just-in-Time flows, does this require a rethink of trade lanes and modes, ports of import and export, or warehousing provision?

At a technical level too, he says businesses will need competent individuals who are capable of setting systems up to deal with Customs, tariffs, country of origin rules and other issues that may hitherto have been marginal. And, it isn’t just about new IT. It’s about adapting to new timescales and expectations.

Regardless of the as yet unknown challenges that post-Brexit trading may bring (no one would want to put their life savings on the outcome), now is the time to act decisively on minimising those risks that are within your ability to control.